Beating of Beaufort bride remains unsolved

(Editor's note: This story was updated to clarify information on Sept. 21, 2009.)

Though they have no suspects and more than six months have passed since a 26-year Beaufort native was attacked at an upscale downtown Beaufort inn the night before her wedding, Beaufort Police Chief Matt Clancy is confident investigators will get their man.

"Each case is different, and this is one of those investigations that no matter how much time has passed, the investigators will always be cognizant of it and if there's a new lead, (they'll) follow it up," Clancy said. "Time can be a factor but it's a matter of being in it for the long haul and knowing that something could shake loose."

Beaufort Police know very little about the man who broke into the hotel room of Rhyan Mazur-Williamson and her husband, Michael Williamson, on April 18 and attacked the woman, causing multiple fractures to her nose and face.

The attack forced the couple to cancel their wedding the following day at Sea Island Presbyterian Church on Lady's Island and a scheduled reception at the Oaks Plantation. They were instead married in the backyard of the St. Helena Island home of the bride's parents after Mazur-Williamson was released from Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

Sgt. Darrel Gruel, the case's lead investigator, said he remains committed to finding Mazur-Williamson's assailant.

"Even though several months have passed, the investigation is still active and will remain active until a suspect has been identified and apprehended," Gruel said. "We still need the public's assistance and remind them that it is likely that other individuals who were in the downtown area just prior to the assault may have seen something significant and may not have recognized it as such."

Clancy said Gruel and the city's three other investigators typically balance between 20 to 25 cases at a time.

"Of course, you always have new cases coming in every day, and they all have different degrees of solvability," Clancy said. "With any unsolved case, there could be nothing for months and then something new comes up and the investigator is right back on it. A case like this one is always on his mind."

Rhyan Mazur-Williamson said she hopes someone will come forward and give Gruel the break he needs to crack the case.

"I hope any one with any sort of information will contact the Beaufort Police Department," she said in an e-mail to The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet. "We are all doing our jobs the best we can, given the lack of significant information."

Gruel said he thinks that information could come from someone close to the attacker.

"Investigators also understand that in these types of cases there is someone close to the offender who may suspect their friend or family member is the person responsible for this assault. ... Coming forward with this information may be very difficult," Gruel said. "However, they may be the only person in a position to help before another innocent person is harmed."